Pharmaxis and Synairgen Collaborate on LOXL2 Inhibitor to Treat IPF

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by Maureen Newman |

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Pharmaxis Ltd. and Synairgen plc are entering into a research collaboration to develop a therapeutic for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). The two companies are researching a selective inhibitor of the lysyl oxidase type 2 enzyme (LOXL2), an enzyme shown to promote scar tissue and damage in the lungs of IPF patients.

“We have continued to make good progress in our preclinical LOX inhibitor program and in particular on LOXL2 small molecule inhibitors to treat various diseases where fibrosis is a major problem,” said Mr. Gary Phillips, CEO of Pharmaxis, in a news release from the Australian-based pharmaceutical company. “Synairgen has a demonstrated excellence in respiratory drug development, having successfully licensed its inhaled IFN-beta Phase 2 program to AstraZeneca.”

Synairgen will be funding activity of the LOXL2 inhibitor program and contributing its in vitro lung model platform. This will complement the chemistry platform already  in use at Pharmaxis. Together, the companies will work towards a pre-clinical and early clinical development program that also involves researchers at University of Southampton.

“Using existing financial resources from our fundraising in 2014, we will apply our BioBank platform of advanced human tissue models and understanding of respiratory biology to develop the LOXL2 inhibitor,” stated Richard Marsden, CEO of Synairgen, which is based in the United Kingdom. “We look forward to working closely with Pharmaxis and the world class academics at the University of Southampton to progress this opportunity into the clinic in patients with IPF.”

In addition to Pharmaxis and Synairgen, other biotechnology companies are pursuing LOXL2 inhibitors to treat IPF. In 2011, Gilead Sciences and Arresto Biosciences were developing a LOXL2 targeting antibody (simtuzumab) in Phase 1 clinical trials and are presently conducting a large efficacy trial. But the inhibitor from Pharmaxis and Synairgen is unique, according to Mr. Marsden. “Pharmaxis has a proven competence in the discovery and development of novel molecules, making it an ideal partner.”

The medical community is also excited about the collaboration in hopes of a developing a new IPF drug, and for the potential for therapeutics to treat related diseases. “The significant interest among leading clinicians and pharmaceutical companies in the role of LOXL2 in a number of different diseases has highlighted the need for us to collaborate for selected indications in order to fully exploit the potential value of our intellectual property,” said Mr. Phillips. Together, Pharmaxis and Synairgen may help the 100,000 individuals in the United States who are affected by IPF.